Today's Wrike update enables cross-organization teams to play nicely in the same sandbox

By Michael Carney , written on May 3, 2013

From The News Desk

When it comes to collaboration tools, it’s hard create a single solution that can be everything to everyone. Small organizations have dramatically different needs than do large ones. Similarly, service-based organizations have unique requirements that are foreign to more internally focused company.

Cloud-based project management platform startup Wrike knows this all too well, having grown to serve more than 1,000 paid customers globally, including 35 of the Fortune 1,000 such as Adobe, EMC, Accenture, Kraft, Hilton, Stanford, Ticketmaster, and Ebay. Recently, the company addressed one of the biggest requests among these users, by rolling out a new cross-account collaboration tool.

The issue is that when multiple organizations want to collaborate, historically they either must do so outside of a purpose-built platform, resorting instead to email and cloud file storage. A similar problem arises when multiple teams from within the same organization wish to collaborate on a single project, without sharing the remainder of their workspace.

With the new Wrike upgrades, both these scenarios cease to be problematic, as project owners can invite outside collaborators, either from different groups within the same organization or from an outside company to contribute. In the case of external participants, hosts can choose to designate them either a Collaborator, a free state granting them limited functionality, or an External User, which requires the host to pay for an additional seat but grants access to the full feature set. In all cases, the host can set granular permissions regarding what documents the guest can view and modify.

Critically, if an External User or Collaborator has an existing Wrike profile, the newly shared project will be added to this account and will be accessible alongside existing workspaces. There is no limit to the number of workspaces a user can have or the number of collaborators that can be invited to a single project.

The decision to add cross-account collaboration was not one taken lightly, founder and CEO Andrew Filev says. In fact, it required a significant re-architecting of the company’s platform. But as the most requested use feature, it was a challenge that the company felt it needed to undertake. It doesn’t hurt that inviting outside collaborators will create a viral loop like the one seen through Dropbox file-sharing, helping Wrike grow its audience.

“When Wrike was conceived, we had a vision that in a matter of time, Wrike would be a platform not only for collaboration of teams inside a company, but also with partners, contractors, clients, everyone you work with,” Filev says. “Today, thousands of teams are connected with Wrike’s work graph. Whether they want to engage clients in the projects, need to plug in freelancers or need help from an external consultancy on some assignments, it’s easy with Wrike’s powerful blend of flexibility, ease of use and privacy.”

Wrike was founded in 2006 and has profitable for several years. The company was bootstrapped until raising $1 million in outside capital from TMT Investments in June 2012.

Wrike isn’t the only platform in its category to support external users. Asana, for example, allows external users. However, the company believes that it is the first to allow the granularity of control now available for managing accessibility. Also, with the addition of the new license type, companies can choose the level of functionality required in each instance and select between a free or paid account.

In the online marketing vertical, a niche collaboration platform from SHIFT already offers similar cross-organizational collaboration. SHIFT takes it a step further by offering its the full functionality of its platform for free to all users and instead monetizing through a third-party app marketplace.

As teams grow more distributed and dividing lines between companies and projects project management and collaboration solutions like Wrike become mission critical. The company is wise to listen to and address the changing needs of its clients with solutions like cross-organizational collaboration. This space is bound to grow more competitive over time, not less, as large companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle, and others realize that it’s the linchpin of enterprise productivity.

“The most important thing about this update is that it moves us closer to the ‘connected work graph,’” Filev says. “We’re striving to make it so that it doesn’t matter where you are or where you work, there are no limits on your productivity.”

[Image via svmomblog]